Day 146: Broken Harbor

Cover for Broken HarborBest Book of the Week!
I have eagerly awaited each new novel by Irish author Tana French ever since reading her first, In the Woods. She has only gotten better. A technique she has employed from the first is to use a secondary character from one book as her protagonist for the next–a creative way to provide continuity for a stand-alone story.

Mick Kennedy briefly appeared in French’s last book, Faithful Place, as a brash, abrasive cop. Although not all his coworkers like his bullheaded, aggressive manner, he has a high solve rate and goes completely by the book. He lands an important case, an attack on an entire family. Pat and Jenny Spain and their two children were attacked in their home in an upscale development that has floundered since the economic downturn–in Brianstown, which Mick knows as Broken Harbor. Only Jenny has a chance of surviving. Mick takes along as partner a rookie detective he thinks has potential.

When the detectives get to Broken Harbor, they find almost a lunar landscape of half-built, crumbling houses and rubble with only a few badly built occupied homes. The Spain’s house, however, is immaculate when you look past the blood. But something strange has been going on. Holes are smashed in the walls, monitors and cameras are strategically placed, and a vicious trap is set up in the attic. The computer has been wiped, and the “floaters” discover that someone has been camping out in a nearby house and spying on the Spains.

Broken Harbor holds a mix of confusing memories for Mick. His family spent two weeks there every summer when it was a modest fishing town. He was happy there, but at the end of the last summer, his mother committed suicide. Mick has been purposefully ignoring his unresolved feelings in addition to coping with a mentally ill younger sister.

Broken Harbor is a police procedural that becomes a riveting psychological suspense novel. Unlike with some of French’s earlier books, I was unable to decide between the competing suspects. But whether you can guess the solution or not, you’ll enjoy French’s novels. They are rich with complex characterizations and intriguing plots. The suspense builds as we begin to understand what was going on in the house and Mick begins to grasp how traumatized he actually is by the events in his past. The novel is dark and disturbing–just the kind of book I like!